My tribute to Atiq Ahmed

Amrit Hallan
7 min readApr 17


Image courtesy Swarajya magazine

The very idea of India got murdered with the murder of Atiq Ahmed.

As the dust gradually settles after the barbarous murder of the patriarch of one of the most renowned mafia families to have graced the land of U.P., it’s time to throw some light on the infallible greatness of the father, the husband, the brother, the neighbor, the disciplinarian, the pet owner, the philosopher, and the motivating force that Atiq Ahmed was.

Atiq Ahmed was precocious. As the saying goes in Hindi, होनहार बीरबान के होत चीकने पात — people with prodigal talent have smooth feet.

He showed the knack for his incredible aptitude by shooting and killing someone at a tender age of 17. Just imagine, when other kids of his age back then were shooting imaginary people on their Nintendo consoles, this prodigal soul had already embarked upon a journey that would eventually turn him into a folklore hero, by shooting actual people.

Atiq Ahmed was a diehard socialist. Inspired by Karl Marx, Stalin and Mao, he strongly objected to people owning properties. Having a deep understanding of the human psych, he knew that bringing social and attitudinal changes may take a few generations. So, instead of trying to transform people’s minds, he simply took over their properties. He would take their homes. He would take their farmlands, offices, and shops. All these reform movements came at a personal cost, though.

People can be ignorant. Sometimes they don’t understand the inherent good of the deeds committed by land reformers like Atiq Ahmed. Sometimes he needed to nudge people into agreeing with him. Just as you need to discipline a child, he often disciplined people. His favorite method was torture.

“Torture,” he often ruminated among people who were eager to sip the manna from the cup of his wisdom, “is a spiritual journey both for the torturer and the tortured.”

Here is how: when you torture someone you feel near to god. Just like god, you exert complete control over the destiny of the tortured. Just like god, you can do whatever you feel like to the person tied in front of you. The wrath of Atiq Ahmed merged with the wrath of the god. The divine confluence of “Nar and Narayan”.

What about the tortured? The tortured person began to appreciate those days when he hadn’t come in contact with Atiq Ahmed. He realized what a painless life he had been living so far, an aspect he didn’t appreciate before. The tortured person was filled with gratitude after going through torture.

Of course, people can be quite ungrateful. When he delivered the godly experience during his tortures, people would often scream and cry and beg for life. This saddened his tender heart. Although he laughed on the outside, inside, he often cried. One would often come across him listening to तुम इतना जो मुस्कुरा रहे हो, क्या ग़म है जिसको छुपा रहे हो

To change the system, you need to become a part of the system.

Since his efforts were often being stymied by the incorrect laws of the country, he needed to become a law unto himself. Politics was the perfect way to achieve that.

He knew that his social and economic ideas were ahead of their times and were beyond the comprehension of the current generation. Pragmatic as he was, he understood the symbiotic relationship between politics and the type of reformist activities he carried out. He recognized the indispensability of establishing close ties with powerful politicians.

The Samajwadi Party those days was the harbinger of the social renaissance blossoming in India. The state of U.P. was setting a stellar example not just for other states of India, but also countries like Japan, US and Germany, whose representatives clandestinely came here to learn about what levels of quality of life can be achieved by allowing the common folks to be plundered, looted, and kidnapped for ransom.

Businesses were fleeing. Law and order was controlled by criminals who actually had a deeper understanding of what crime is (a “nothing without us” sort of philosophy).

People were going back to their roots by not having to use electricity. Since not much traveling was required, there was no relevance for roads and transportation. As should be the case, students were allowed to cheat in schools and goons were allowed to run amok in colleges. The BJP just talks about Ram Rajya, but the Samajwadi Party actually heralded the era of Ram Rajya for those who had the intellect to perceive it.

Atiq Ahmed was a perfect fit for such a party. Once he became the law maker, there was nothing holding him back. Well deservedly, he was given a free run by the government. The icing on the cake was that he fought and won an election from the Phoolpur constituency, the same sacred place from where our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was elected three times.

Of course, good things don’t last. The power in U.P. fell into the hands of the BJP. Atiq Ahmed was arrested, and brick by brick, the entire landscape of social harmony and secularism that he had fashioned, was undone. This travesty culminated into him being gunned down, putting a prompt end to an illustrious career in public life and social upliftment.

How do we remember him?

As mentioned above, he was a multifaceted personality.

He strongly believed in secularism. This is why, when he motivated people into giving him their land, houses, and money, he didn’t discriminate. The journalists who were close to him fondly remember that he tortured and murdered people from all religions and castes. It didn’t matter whether they were Hindus, Muslims, upper or lower castes, government employees or businessmen, bureaucrats or policemen — everyone was equal to his benevolent eye.

Despite being known as a kind soul, he was a relentless disciplinarian. He encouraged all his brothers and sons to follow his footsteps from young ages. For example, his youngest son, when he murdered Umesh Pal (the villain who was planning on testifying against his beloved father), was just 19.

He taught the men who worked with him to never leave a job undone. People who have had the good fortune of closely working with him, reminisce that when he had sent his missionaries to help Raju Pal meet his creator, they came back and told him that although they had showered Raju Pal with bullets, some thankless wretches were rushing him to the hospital.

Atiq Ahmed was gentle, but also firm, as was his style of functioning. He wanted to teach his men the importance of never doing a task half heatedly. He lovingly chided them and told them to go back and ensure that Raju Pal met his creator. The legend has it that inspired by his motivational speech, his men went back and kept firing at the dead body of Raju Pal for 5 miles. This story is still told to inspire generations.

Despite living a minimalistic lifestyle he knew how important wealth generation is. He accumulated thousands of crores of property for all his poor relatives. The beautiful thing about this is that, being true to the Marxist ideological path, he never earned the wealth he got. He politely asked people to give their properties to him, and in most of the cases they did, and those who didn’t, got to see their lives through an entirely altered perspective, and then, obviously, complied wholeheartedly.

He was secular in the sense that he terrorized everyone irrespective of religion and caste.

He was quite sensitive towards India’s wildlife. In close circles he often expressed his concern about the depleting population of lions in India.

So, recently he called his youngest son “sher ka bachcha” (a lion’s son). Knowing that his every conversation was being broadcast by the media, he knew that this statement would raise awareness about the plight of the lions. It is being reported that the population of lions has seen a spike after the statement. It’s a pity that just as sometimes the majestic cats are poached, this “sher ka bachcha” also met a gruesome end.

He was a big education reformer. In a known incident he slapped the Vice Chancellor of the Allahabad University because the Vice Chancellor was putting some hurdles in the way of his education reforms. He also got some other faculty members thrashed as an added measure. He believed in corporal punishment, but as an elder of the family.

Unfortunately, this incident unleashed a chain of events that led him to his incarceration and then ultimately, to his death.

There has been a deluge of condolences from the liberal circles since he always kept the torch of liberalism, secularism, altruism, feminism, humanism, and idealism, burning high.

Both the BBC and Washington Post have rightly addressed him as the “former parliamentarian” and “former lawmaker”.

The BBC rightly says that Atiq Ahmed was a “Robin Hood”. He didn’t discriminate. He took land from people and distributed it among his poor relatives. He abducted brides so that people didn’t have to indulge in the outdated traditions of marriage. He threatened schoolchildren from wearing uniforms because the existing schooling system was faulty.

He carried such a saintly image that 10 judges recused themselves from hearing his cases due to extreme reverence to the work he was doing.

He regularly dismantled gender barriers by equally brutalizing both men and women. Also, he could foresee that even the United Nations would recommend legalizing every aspect of having sex.

Some newspapers have reported that he was looking forward to his youngest son becoming a lawyer.

Slogans of “Hindustan Murdabad” are being commemorated in his memory. Prayer meetings are being organized in progressive institutions like the JNU. Communist brothers and sisters are planning to burn the effigy of Yogi Adityanath under whose watch this brutality has happened. In one of the most advanced and peaceful states of India, West Bengal, a candlelight vigil is being organized in the sweet memory of the departed soul.

If we ever have our own version of the Statue of Liberty, it is going to be in the form of Atiq Ahmed, holding the torch high, round as a peach.

You can follow me on Twitter: @amrithallan



Amrit Hallan

I don’t care much about being politically correct. Things are just right or wrong and yes, sometimes there are grey areas in this is why we write, don’t we?